Word of the Day

Sunday, June 06, 2021

amphibious

[ am-fib-ee-uhs ]

adjective

of or relating to military operations by both land and naval forces against the same object.

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What is the origin of amphibious?

Amphibious and amphibian have several overlapping meanings in zoology and botany, but in the sense “relating to combined military operations by land and naval forces against a common target,” only amphibious is used. In the mid-1930s, at a time when air power was rapidly developing, the neologisms triphibian and triphibious were coined very useful for describing combined land, sea, and air operations, but an abomination—two abominations, even, for purists. Amphibious ultimately comes from Greek amphíbios “having a double life,” used by science writers about frogs and plants. In later Greek the Neoplatonist philosopher Plotinus used amphíbios metaphorically to describe the human soul as an inhabitant of two worlds. Amphíbios is composed of two very common Proto-Indo-European roots, ambhi– “on both sides, around” and gweiə-, gwey-, gwī-, gwi– (with many other variants) “to live.” Ambhi– becomes amphí in Greek, as in amphithéātron “amphitheater,” literally, “a place for watching from both sides.” Ambhi– becomes amb(i)– in Latin, a prefix meaning “around, both..,” as in ambiguus “unsettled, undecided.” \ The Greek combining form bio– comes from bíos “life,” from Proto-Indo-European gwios (gw– becomes b– in Greek under certain conditions). The root variant gwī– is the source of Latin vīta “life.” Amphibious entered English in the 17th century.

how is amphibious used?

Through tactical and strategic unification the Allies successfully undertook the greatest amphibious landings yet attempted in warfare.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Remarks to Congress, June 18, 1945

All the elements for the D-day attack were in place by the spring of 1944: more than 150,000 men, nearly 12,000 aircraft, almost 7,000 sea vessels. It was arguably the largest amphibious invasion force in history.

Tim Rives, "'Ok, We'll Go': Just What Did Ike Say When He Launched The D-day Invasion 70 Years Ago?" Prologue, Spring 2014

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Saturday, June 05, 2021

agglomeration

[ uh-glom-uh-rey-shuhn ]

noun

a jumbled cluster or mass of varied parts.

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What is the origin of agglomeration?

The English noun agglomeration, “a jumbled cluster or mass of varied parts,” comes from Latin agglomerātus, the past participle of agglomerāre “to mass together, pile up, join forces,” a derivative of glomerāre “to roll into a ball, collect into a dense mass.” Glomerāre in turn is a derivative of the noun glomus (inflectional stem glomer-) “a ball, a skein or ball of yarn.” Glomus is related to the Latin nouns globus “round body, round cake, sphere” (English globe) and glēba (also glaeba) “lump or clod of earth” (English glebe “soil, field”). Agglomeration entered English in the second half of the 17th century.

how is agglomeration used?

In our exuberance to build more green things, we need to focus on updating what we’ve already damaged. That dead mall could be a solar field. (It already has the power hookups.) That agglomeration of gas pumps could be a park-and-ride charging station for commuters traveling farther by train.

Paul Greenberg and , "We Don't Need More Life-Crushing Steel and Concrete," New York Times, April 13, 2021

A galaxy is much more than a radiant agglomeration of stars. To modern astrophysicists, galaxies are more notable for their dark sides: their hidden material that is only “seen” by its gravitational pull upon the shiny stuff it seems to vastly outweigh.

Rebecca Boyle, "Astronomers Boggle at a Distant Galaxy Devoid of Dark Matter," Scientific American, March 28, 2018

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Friday, June 04, 2021

deliquesce

[ del-i-kwes ]

verb (used without object)

to melt away.

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What is the origin of deliquesce?

Deliquesce, “to melt away; become liquid,” comes straight from Latin dēliquēscere “to become liquid, dissipate one’s energy,” a compound of the preposition and prefix , -, here indicating removal, and the verb liquēscere “to melt, decompose, putrefy.” Liquēscere is an inchoative verb (also called an inceptive verb), meaning that the verb indicates the beginning, the inception of an action. In Latin (and in Greek) the suffix –sc– (Latin) and –sk– (Greek) changes a verb of state, such as liquēre “to be liquid, be clear,” to an inceptive verb. Derivatives of liquēre include liquidus “clear, fluid” (English liquid) and liquor “fluidity, liquid character” (English liquor). Deliquesce entered English in the mid-18th century.

how is deliquesce used?

My thoughts started to deliquesce and slide through my brain like melting cheese.

Zoe Williams, "Fit in my 40s: 'My thoughts slide through my brain like melting cheese," The Guardian, July 21, 2018

A subsequent painting in the album … sees Jeong render the white peaks in ink that fades from the top of the composition to the bottom, making the mountain range deliquesce as if in fog.

Jason Farago, "Review: When a Landscape (and Memory) Is All You Have," New York Times, February 8, 2018

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